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Rhetorical Analysis of Obama's 'A More Perfect Union' Speech

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From 16th century when North America was colonized by French and British through the history of The United States there has been a various instance of colonialism and racism and mass killing of the North American natives. Up to now, there is discrimination of the people due to their skin color or due to people’s cultural background differences dominated by the lineage of the white colonists. In 1787, there was the signing of the “The United States Constitution” document and this according to Obama, (2008) “launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy.” Man in the name of Barack Hussein Obama, in 18th March 2008 when he was Illinois’s African-American senator, presented a speech which was named “A More Perfect Union.”

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Through the use of valid historical and social argument, showing strong emotions and various personal experiences that related to the persons who were familiar with the prejudicing of racial and the social challenges in the U.S in the speech, Obama attracted great attention of the media. His speech, Obama presented his justification and argument which was centered to upcoming election of a president that was based on historical issues, education ethnic challenges and current economic in the United States. It was seen as a matter that could drop his level in the presidential candidate giving Jeremiah Wright good support when the issue he presented talked about how the African American is going through several challenges in the society. To influence his audience, Obama used Aristotle’s rhetorical principles of pathos, ethos, and logos to present the social problems (Kristin, week 43). Through combining of most recognized influential and persuasion techniques of rhetorical which were written by Aristotle’s himself, and affirming and re-contextualize significant social challenges the Barack Obama’s speech became successful.


The speech of the Obama is opening with a quote stating “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” This point he captures the trust and attention of his people by asserting himself in the same level as the audience without placing himself below or above them. By showing that forming a perfect union is not that possible, but a more perfect one, Obama present his perspective on the ongoing thought of the constitution. Obama indicates that this is the time of being realistic by presenting a critical view of the creation of perfect union ideas. By this, we recognize the use of arguments and rhetorical development in the Obama’s speech. He continues by approaching the racial problems that still has an enormous effect on the modern life of the African-Americans.

In 1787, several white leaders did the first signing of the constitution document and then was stained by the nations slave history. During that era, the United States was divided by two, north and south, centered on different values, which later resulted to 1865 civil war. It was not until the late 1860s when the nation’s law abolished the slavery. Nevertheless, the strong racism against the persons differing in the background or more precise their skin color could be ended, and miserably the act goes on up-to-date.

In his speech, Obama says that “Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, ‘The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.’” He talks about the “Jim Crow laws” that were developed in the 1890s to splits the black people from the white people. A new chapter which debated about the racial in the United States began after this law formed the term “separate but equal” (Jim Crow laws). These laws were put in place until 1965 and in his speech, Obama said that the traditions and marks of these laws are still seen being practice in various schools in the U.S currently. In this form, Obama uses the historical events and he connects them with current values. This act as a reminder to the nation on the strong racial history thus capturing the audiences’ perspective and emotions of the country’s racial evolution.

Based on his own story and proficiencies, Barack Obama reveals how it is possible to achieve the American dream. Obama seems very patriotic and confidence I the way he speaks to his audience and what he shares with them. He says that “I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.” The society of American is very patriotic. Therefore, for Obama to catch the emotions and trust of the aged part of the population, using these patriotic references is very significant. A huge number of the United States people shows their trust in Barack Obama. This is because he uses the examples that could attract the huge portion of the diverse cultural and the aged part of the U.S population. In this part, Obama utilizes Aristotle`s logos, ethos and pathos very well.

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The conclusion which critical is based combination of result analysis of the literary techniques of the Obama, his re-contextualization usage, and Aristotle’s rhetorical concepts of pathos ethos and logos. Therefore, he makes it stimulating to confirm if “A more perfect union” convinced the audience voting for Barack Obama himself, or voting for Obama due to how he presented his speech and the idea of creating a more perfect union, or the both of them.

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Rhetorical Analysis of Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ Speech. (2018, October 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 11, 2023, from
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